Will Dean's new music releases review

Young Knives | Kid Sister feat Kanye West | Johnny Foreigner | Spiritualized Soul | Sandi Thom

Pick of the week: Young Knives, Turn Tail (Transgressive)

The undoubted highlight of the Knives' second album, Turn Tail sounds like an elegiac sea shanty on valium. It's jaunty but maudlin, bouncy but melancholic. "We're all slaves on this ship, this ship's sinking," arghs First Mate Henry Dartnell as he belts out his pessimists' anthem of a chorus. It's not all about turning tail and running away, mind; the verses discuss breaking down walls and working your hands to the bone - no pessimist would contemplate that. On a separate note, if there's a better song to jog to all year, then this writer will run the London marathon.

Kid Sister feat Kanye West, Pro Nails (Fool's Gold/Downtown)

Up until recently Chicago's Kid Sister, aka Melissa Young, was still working a job in retail between shows with the likes of Akon. Pro Nails ought to ensure Young never has to return to the shops - except with her platinum card - because it's great. Featuring another solid cameo from fellow Chicagoan Kanye who, with typically accurate modesty, declares about Pro Nails that if he's "on it, it's an anthem". Even if it is an anthem about matching toe and nail varnish. Bonus points are awarded for the sublime breakdown at the end where Young drops into a supercilious coda that's as elegant as it is beatifically simple.

Johnny Foreigner, Eyes Wide Terrified (Best Before)

Despite having to point out to confused gig bookers on their MySpace contact details that no one in Birmingham three-piece Johnny Foreigner is actually called Johnny Foreigner, Johnny Foreigner remains an excellent name. Also excellent is their music. Citing impeccable references, including Pavement, whose Shady Lane is mined briefly for the first few seconds here, and every other great US indie band of the last 15 years, Eyes Wide Terrified dashes from A to J and back to C with nary a pause for breath, except possibly to namecheck tour buddies Los Campesinos! whose boundless enthusiasm is matched here both sonically and in conceptually. It's a lot of fun.

Spiritualized, Soul On Fire (Spaceman Records)

There's a funny website (tinyurl.com/mn9tl) called the Daily Mail Headline Maker which uses stock phrases and verbs to create imaginary Mail stories like "Does Brian Paddick Give Your Mortgage Cancer?" You have to wonder if J Spaceman has been working on a Spiritualized Song Creator which takes gospel choirs, soaring guitars and lyrics about redemption to produce a song inevitably titled Lift Me Up Baby. He gets away with this, er, consistency though by continuing to make fine music. The SSC may not have changed its parts in a decade, but it's still a finely oiled machine.

Sandi Thom, The Devil's Beat (RCA)

Although Sandi Thom's I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker with its "flowers in my hair" lyric may have been thoroughly misguided, you've got to admire the girl's gall. Really, what's more punk than managing to coerce your way to the top of the charts?


Will Dean

The GuardianTramp

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